Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McCain has only $47m left for final polling spurt.

John McCain's campaign are admitting that he is now low on funds as we enter the final part of the race, but admit that their candidate could never have matched Obama's ability to raise money privately.

Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, in a conference call with reporters, said: "I think we can still win on that basis." But he admitted that Obama would go down as "the greatest fundraiser in political history".

Davis expressed hope that the Republican party, which has separate funds amounting to $80m, would pitch in with ads supporting McCain's campaign. But some state party organisations, notably in Florida and Virginia, are reluctant to commit funds and are holding back for future contests.

Massie Ritsch, who works for the independent Centre for Responsive Politics, a funding watchdog, acknowledged "it is not a level playing field". But he said the question was whether McCain could have matched Obama.

"I do not think he could have raised as much as Obama from private sources, or even near it. McCain must be hoping his party will close that gap," said Ritsch.

Obama's ability to raise money from members of the public is unprecedented and is at the heart of his campaign, a campaign which repudiates money from special interest groups and has raised the majority of it's funding from donations of $25 via the Internet.

As we enter the final couple of weeks of the campaign McCain has used $37m of the $84m in public funds he had available for his campaign whilst Obama raised $150 million last month alone.

This accounts for the huge discrepancy in advertising in some states with Obama said to be outspending McCain by 8 to 1. This might also account for the fact that Obama is now able to make a play in some Southern states which were once regarded as Republican strongholds.

But Obama is warning supporters that in this election, despite his lead in the polls and the huge cash advantage the Democrats enjoy, only a fool would suppose that this election is over.

"There's no doubt. We think the race will tighten, because that's just what happens," he said. "Even when there are substantial leads - and in each of these battleground states you've got a lot of close races - one of the messages that I've had to my team is that we don't let up."

To underline the point, a CNN poll yesterday put Obama on 51% nationwide, to McCain's 46%, a marginal improvement for the Republican. The same pollsters earlier this month had Obama on 53% and McCain on 45%. But a Suffolk University poll in Ohio, one of the three big pivotal states, showed Obama extending his lead to 51%, compared to McCain's 42%.

To emphasise how tight things might become Obama yesterday joined forces with Hillary Clinton to show solidarity in the state of Florida which went to George Bush in the previous two elections.

Introduced to the stage as the "Iron Lady", Clinton delivered a forthright endorsement of her one-time opponent's credentials for the White House and urged the voters who swept her to an ultimately meaningless victory in the state's Democratic primary to campaign anew for Obama. "It's a mad dash for the finish line and we cannot take a single vote for granted," she said. "If you knocked on doors for me, knock on doors for Barack. If you made calls for me, make them for Barack."

I have no doubt that Obama will use his cash advantage to great effect in the final fortnight of this campaign but, bizarrely, the danger for him is that his supporters become complacent and assume that victory is guaranteed.

Obama has been hammering this point home to his own volunteers:
Indeed, Barack Obama himself hopped on a nationwide all-staff conference call Friday to emphasize this point to the troops. Pledging to "come down hard" on anyone getting "too cocky," Obama specifically and pre-emptively called out any semblance of lack of focus. High-fiving, for example, is strictly verboten. Acknowledging everyone must be exhausted, he pointed out that he was pretty worn out too. "I've been doing this longer than you, and I'm older than all of you." The message: if I can finish this off, so can you. Do not doubt that this is a man firmly in control of his campaign.
As we enter the final fortnight, and the polls tighten, the one thing that gives me faith is that Obama himself is anything but complacent.


This is just too sad.

A family emergency interrupted Barack Obama's quest for the presidency yesterday, when the Democratic candidate announced he was leaving the campaign trail to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

A campaign spokesman said Obama's 86-year old grandmother Madelyn Dunham had taken ill, and described her condition as "very serious". The spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said Obama will cancel campaign events later this week to return to Hawaii. He declined to give details of her illness but said it had deteriorated in recent weeks and was serious enough for the Illinois senator to make the more than 10-hour long flight to Honolulu.

It would be awful if she didn't live long enough to see her grandson become the first black President of the United States, but it's obviously very serious if Obama has suspended campaigning to visit her.

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